2020 Scholarship Recipients
Community Crossroads selected six outstanding local high school seniors to receive a $750.00 scholarship. These exceptional young leaders have worked to achieve positive change, which has resulted in a more welcoming and accessible community for students of all abilities. The honored scholarship recipients are Alexander Greenwood, Caitlin McLaughlin, and Julia Whitley from Salem High School, Bailey Orio from Timberlane Regional High, and Jacob Kuczynski and McKenna Deveau from Windham High School. Read more below about their leadership, accomplishments, and future goals.
Alexander Greenwood, Salem High School
A dedicated volunteer since 2014 in the Salem Youth Association’s TOP Soccer program, which provides an inclusive experience for kids who experience disabilities to “get around obstacles they face to play the game”, Alexander demonstrated creative ways to support and accommodate his fellow team members. Using his ingenuity and engineering know-how Alex helped a team member who uses a power wheelchair by equipping it with a scoop-like “ball pusher” made from PVC piping so the player could independently “dribble” the ball. This experience solidified Alex’s future career pursuits in Biomechanical Engineering with a focus on prosthetics and braces. In addition, Alex went on to also choose a Unified PE course at Salem High, which brings together an inclusive group of high schoolers with and without disabilities to enjoy physical activities. The students are supportive of each other adapting activities to create an accessible and fun experience. Alex’s efforts at his school and in his local community have served to create a more welcoming and inclusive climate. Alex truly understands the importance of removing barriers and supporting meaningful social and recreational opportunities for students of all abilities.
Caitlin McLaughlin, Salem High School
Caitlin has demonstrated impressive resiliency and determination during her life and high school years to achieve her goals. Despite the challenges of growing up with a hearing impairment and undergoing many surgeries as well as experiencing dyslexia, Caitlin persevered and became an effective self-advocate. During her freshman year Caitlin realized she needed more specialized support to address her language-based learning differences and appealed to her school team to access the support and services she needed to not only graduate but to succeed and be able to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. Caitlin worked incredibly hard and earned a 3.85 GPA. Given Caitlin’s valuable personal perspective, postsecondary career goals, and outstanding academic achievement, she was chosen and served as a student intern in the Student Career Opportunity Outreach Program (SCOOP) at Boston Children’s Hospital. There she had the opportunity to observe Cardiac Catheterization Labs including a newborn Aortic Valve Stenosis. In the healthcare field, Caitlin intends on delivering culturally competent care to people of all abilities and will promote hope, confidence, and positive thinking.
Julia Whitley, Salem High School
A steadfast advocate for inclusion and equality for students who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities, Julia served as the Best Buddies student President at Salem High School. The most important aspect of the program over the last four years was the friendships Julia developed with her peers. Julia collaborated with another Best Buddies’ participant and friend to create a message about the importance of inclusion, which they captured in a video and shared with fellow school peers and the wider community. Julia understands and educates others around how it is not enough to “strive” for inclusion. True inclusion is when people of all abilities enjoy meaningful friendships with one another and every student achieves a sense of belonging in their school community and beyond. She thinks this quote sums up the concept, “Diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being invited to dance”. Julia also demonstrated outstanding leadership in the Salem Youth Association’s TOP Soccer program, which provides an inclusive experience for kids with and without disabilities to learn how to play soccer and supports the Play Among The Stars program. Julia plans to attend Franklin Pierce University and start an inclusive student initiative there while she pursues a degree in Physical Therapy.
Bailey Orio, Timberlane Regional High School
While life has surprised Bailey with many obstacles, she has worked and fought hard and long to achieve her goals. It was challenging from a young age to experience extended hospital visits away from her family. As a person who experiences multiple disabilities and who is of short stature that is sometimes mistaken for a small child, Bailey understands the importance of community diversity and acceptance. Bailey plans to pursue a career in Human Services. She looks forward to helping connect individuals and families to needed community resources, supports, and services. She has also witnessed firsthand the struggles experienced by some of her high school peers that come from broken homes as a result of alcohol, drug, and domestic abuse. In the future she hopes to work with teens and families to provide assistance and guidance to overcome these situations and live a good life.
Jacob Kuczynski, Windham High School
With a strong desire to give back to his community, Jacob worked to organize a charity 5K race to benefit the New Hampshire Make-A-Wish Foundation. The idea for this new project came out of a National Honor Society meeting he attended in spring the of 2019. While the process of organizing this event was lengthy he got to work and stayed the course to achieve his vision of independence for all people and goal of supporting this worthwhile organization that strives to open doors of opportunity in the community for kids who experience disabilities. Jacob also demonstrated outstanding leadership as a volunteer at the Parkland Medical Center and the Healthy Kids Running series as well as serving as captain of his cross-country track team. He plans to attend college and pursue a career in Mechanical Engineering. Using technology he plans to create accessible tools and resources to benefit people of all abilities.
McKenna Deveau, Windham High School
A talented dancer at the Studio of Performing Arts, McKenna became acquainted with and started to support Community Crossroads’ Annual Kids’ Carnival and has been for many years. McKenna’s support of this a community event brings together kids with and without disabilities and raises funds to benefit kids and adults with developmental and other disabilities and their families. This experience positively influenced McKenna’s career interests and passion to help others. She plans to use her education to achieve her vision and create a better life experience for people with disabilities. McKenna plans on pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy. She also demonstrated outstanding leadership through her multiple internships at OT Works 4 Kidz in Windham, NH, New England Pediatrics in Bedford, NH, and Windham Center School and was inspired by the positive difference an OT can make in the life of a child. McKenna’s long-term goal is to open her own OT clinic where she can continue to provide a safe, accepting, and positive environment for children of all abilities.